I have come to believe that parenting ebbs and flows in phases.
Sometimes the discipline is EASY. I’ve done the work, I’ve followed through, been firm and my children simply BELIEVE me when I threaten a time out.
(Or dismemberment. . .wait, what?)
Then there are times when they test their boundaries.
When they challenge my rulings, demand my follow through, force me to “prove it”
Those times are ANYTHING but easy.
I’m in one of those times.
I kid you not, the other day my neighbor was praising me for the fact that my Little-Love went straight into time-out when I told her to. (She had just hit his daughter, IN THE FACE, but he was still impressed that she did what I told her to do.)
That was literally only days ago, then last night our babysitter had a VERY different story about our darling girl yelling, “YOUR FIRED!” then proceeding to unrolling all the toilet-paper.
What the Whaaaat?
But really, this is just a symptom of a much bigger issue. My kids are losing their manners.
I think between school, and our neighbor-boys, my kids aren’t in my presence, demanding my attention as much as they used to.
I’m not as actively on top of their behavior, so things are slipping.
After our trip to California, where their behavior issues really came to a head, my husband and I decided it was time to rein things back in.
We sat my son, (the main manners-breaker) down to try and have a civilized, rational discussion about it.
And all HELL broke loose.
He cried. He screamed. He debated and debated, attempting to catch his breath while huge crocodile tears ran out of his big blue eyes.
We were getting no where.
I just kept talking and he just kept fighting.
He didn’t understand.
And then, literally out of the clear blue, he stopped crying and said, “MOM. . . I just had an idea.”
Then he jumped up, grabbed some paper, and proceeded to draw up a step-by-step game plan for how to re-learn his manners.
There were pictures, and a reward system.
It was a complete strategy.
(Please ignore that I didn’t spell ma’am correctly. I was in a hurry and the boy can’t read anyway.)
Adam and I just sat there amazed. Suddenly there were no tears. Cyclone was excited and on task. He had direction and incentive.
And he came up with it on his own.
At one point he left the room to grab a pen and Adam and I stared at each other in wonder. Whispering, “We have GOT to remember this one in the future. This kid doesn’t want to talk, he wants a game plan.”
(Just like a man.)
The last few days have gone MUCH better, what with our goal sheets, and our check marks, and our tickets to collect.
(For every time he show us good manners without being asked he gets a check in a box. After 5 checks he gets two tickets, then after he has gotten five checks in each category he can turn his tickets in for a new toy. It’s genius, wish I’d thought of it myself.)
Seems so obvious now.
We will see how it goes, but so far having a clear and precise plan is helping us out a LOT.
Now if we could just come up with a plan to stop our darling-girl from firing the baby-sitter.
That’s a category in itself.